How to Write an Online ObituaryToss the template • Tell the story
The Virtual Memorial
“As long as humankind exists and we haven’t suffered through some massive collapse of civilization (e.g. zombie apocalypse), then b-emortal.com will be active,” b-emortal assured would-be customers. As it turns out, the final judgment on b-emortal was rendered with considerably less drama. This postmortem messaging service, bootstrapped by a $15,000 indiegogo campaign, generated some media buzz but never got off the ground. In fact, this spread-sheet comparing the cost and features of 90 similar services shows that perhaps 1/4 have likewise flatlined.
It seems like common sense to conclude that there’s just no money to be made in digital memorialization. But as this Slate story explains, there’s plenty of cash to be made on the front end—that is, just after someone dies. Interest fades quickly among extended family and friends. Those who were closest to the obituee, though, remain eager to give him or her a digital immortality, of sorts. That’s where the virtual memorial comes in.
ANATOMY OF AN ONLINE OBITUARY
What’s a Virtual Memorial?
Virtual memorials, also called “digital memorials,” are online obituaries intended to honor the deceased, mourn their loss, preserve their memory, interact with those who knew them, and introduce them to those who didn’t. These digital tributes usually include a text obituary and multiple photos, plus mementos, video, and music or other audio. Virtual memorials are often prepared well after death and tend to be longer than online obituaries. Unlike many print obituaries, virtual memorials are put together not by mortuary or newspaper staff using a depressing template, but by family members or close friends, or by obituees themselves in preparation for their own respective deaths.
What’s the difference between an online obituary and a virtual memorial?
Any remaining distinction between online obituaries and virtual memorials is quickly fading, though, as even the simplest online obituaries continue to integrate more multimedia features and options. Nearly all online obituary sites now offer—at the very least—social media sharing, a guest book, and optional video uploads. Click the tabs below for more about the elements that make up a digital memorial.